Improv and innovation
In a year already filled with challenges, Mother Nature threw one more at Texas Ballet Theater: Winter Storm Uri, which caused a burst pipe, major flooding, and catastrophic damage to their Fort Worth headquarters last month. In addition to offices and costume storage, specialized dance floors in rehearsal facilities were destroyed — in the middle of rehearsals for an upcoming show of world premieres.
Thank goodness the company had already been thinking outside the box — or, in this case, the traditional performance and rehearsal spaces.
They'd already planned to dance "on location" at hot spots around Fort Worth and Dallas — including a restaurant, distillery, and museum — for two digital, pre-recorded productions, the first of which, The Poetry of Expression: Part I, premieres virtually this weekend.
In Fort Worth, viewers may recognize the interior of Jon Bonnell's Waters Restaurant in Sundance Square, Firestone & Robertson Distilling Company's Whiskey Ranch, Inspiration Alley in the Foundry District, and River Ranch event venue in the Stockyards. In Dallas, the company collaborated with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
“We hope audiences enjoy a new kind of performance experience through these productions,” says TBT executive director Vanessa Logan in a release. “They show us all how the beauty and art of ballet can be found anywhere, even in unexpected places.”
TBT’s first production, The Poetry of Expression: Part I, showcases two new works choreographed by company dancers. The piece VREC, choreographed by Riley Moyano, was filmed at multiple locations across Fort Worth, including Whiskey Ranch, River Ranch Stockyards, and Waters.
“The way these locations embodied different sections of my world premiere, VREC, was truly inspirational," Moyano says. "The staff, including Robin Bangert, Craig Bonham, and Jamie Holderby, were so accommodating. Without the collaborative spirit of the DFW community, none of this would have been possible.”
The Poetry of Expression: Part I also features The Story of You, choreographed by Carl Coomer. It was filmed at Dallas’ Perot Museum of Nature and Science, celebrating a collaboration between two local nonprofits in a year of immense challenges and changes for both, they say.
“Carl Coomer’s The Story of You is a deeply inspiring and visionary work of art that perfectly captures the wonder and journey of self-exploration our exhibit halls evoke within our visitors,” says Linda Silver, the Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer of the Perot Museum. “We are delighted to partner with Texas Ballet Theater for this important and timely creation and honored to have the Perot Museum featured in such a beautiful and moving piece.”
The nonprofit dance company says both pieces are representations of the time in which they were created — a time of creative problem-solving and community support, and continuing to share ballet with North Texas while traditional methods, such as in-person performances, aren’t feasible.
And although dancers and audiences alike can't wait to get back to traditional shows at TBT's home, Bass Hall, the company says it's grateful that this most "nontraditional" year has created opportunities for innovation in choreography, presentation style, and now, performance location.
The Poetry of Expression: Part I is available for streaming now through April 9. Tickets are $30 per household and can be purchased at www.texasballettheater.org.